Congolese Sounds: A Lesson in Straight Talking
The Democratic Republic of Congo has brought forth some of the top-selling artists of the African continent, with the late 80s and early 90s famously dubbed the Belle Époque of African rumba music. Bands like Franco & Le T.P.O.K Jazz, Empire Bakuba and Afrisa International toured long distances to shake up the nightlife of cities like Nairobi, Luanda and even Paris and Amsterdam with their danceable Congolese rumba and soukous. Sung in Lingala – the lingua franca of capital city Kinshasa – the songs were naturally incomprehensible for those who did not speak it. But to the Congolese listener, they meant more than just a good night out. The music, with its accompanying diarrhée verbale was a lesson in straight talking.